Gun violence is caused by toxic masculinity and needs to be addressed culturally

Matt Firpo

Opinion Editor

The tragic shooting that occurred Tuesday in Kentucky is another statistic in the growing crisis of mass shootings.

According to The New York Times, the shooter was a 15-year-old student whose gender was not mentioned.

This marks the 11th shooting on a school property since Jan. 1, according to the Times.

Why are shootings happening more and more frequently? I believe these acts of violence are a sign of a larger issue.

Although the gender of the shooter wasn’t mentioned, the student was probably male. According to a report by Time Magazine, 98 percent of mass shootings are committed by men.

Why are men largely the only group that resorts to these acts of violence? I believe it is the result of many factors that cause stress within the individual’s life, but driven by cultural stigma.

Both boys and girls are expected to act and perform in certain ways, commonly referred to as gender roles. For men, the role they are expected to play is detrimental to their mental health and identity.

What makes a masculine individual? Men associate masculinity with attributes of strength, individualism and dominance.

It is considered weak for men to display attributes falsely attributed to women, such as emotional vulnerability or passiveness. I say falsely because men have every capability of being as emotional as women.

This environment for young men leaves them at an impasse. Men are left with no healthy outlet to express their emotions.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that men are much less likely to seek help and express their feelings.

Women suffer from mental illness more frequently than men, according to the American Psychological Association. However, men are the majority in mass shooters.

Why is it that mentally ill men so commonly resort to violence? It is because men are cultured to act violently.

When looking at mainstream representations of men in media, the stereotypical man is portrayed as hypermasculine.

Well-known characters, such as comic book characters like Superman or Iron Man, overcome obstacles usually with violent action.

How is the villain always defeated? Usually at the end of some sort of violent battle.

The difficulty with this perpetuation of violence is it becomes a form of expression for men. Instead of men talking about their emotions, it is more common for men to express their emotions through violent action.

What needs to be done to address this growing issue? There is a need to address what it means to be a man.

When considering what makes a man masculine, it becomes quite clear that the definition of masculinity is too narrow and restrictive.

For example, men are encouraged to have shallow relationships based on activities like sports instead of sharing their feelings. More nurturing relationships are often associated with homosexuality.

As a society, we have demonized the act of being emotional and associated it wrongly with feminine and homosexual traits. Why is it wrong for men to appear feminine or gay?

Masculinity, in asserting its dominance and violence, establishes its power through attacking femininity.

If there is going to be any progress toward averting acts of mass violence, men need to be taught that emotion isn’t feminine but is inherently human.

We need to understand that as men, feeling isn’t weakness, but rather, a function of life, like a heartbeat. Emotion is an indicator of the health of our minds and should be treated as seriously as any other health issue.

Never be afraid to reach out for help. Troy’s Student Counseling Center is available to all enrolled Troy students and can be contacted for an appointment at (334) 670-3700.

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